Time to dig into one of those forgotten Christmas musicals, the 1950 movie The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady, starring June Haver and Gordon MacRae.
Former vaudevillian Dennis O’Grady (James Barton), is living with his three daughters, Katie (Marsha Jones), Patricia (June Haver) and Maureen (Debbie Reynolds, in her first speaking role). Katie is married and pregnant, although her father doesn’t know it, but still has to stay with the family because she and her husband couldn’t find a place to stay together. Patricia has designs to go on stage, like her late mother, but her father objects, believing it was the hard life of the stage that killed her mother. When Pat meets Tony Pastor (Gordon MacRae), who owns a local theatre, she finds her way on stage, but gets kicked out of the house by her father.
As always, a lot of the fun with this movie is the music and dancing. Admittedly, most of the music has long been forgotten (I have no idea how much, if any of it, is period music), beyond the title tune which some *might* know, depending upon how well-versed they may be on old Looney Tunes shorts, since I know I have heard Bugs Bunny singing it in one of his. The dancing, however, provides a lot of the fun, mainly provided by June Haver and Gene Nelson. Most probably know Gene Nelson for his role as Will Parker in the film version of Oklahoma. My own opinion is that his dancing in that movie was tamed down (although, to be fair, it works for the character, as a cowboy, as opposed to being a theatrical dancer like he is in Daughter of Rosie O’Grady). Here, he’s given the chance to show what he can do, with a lot of high-flying leaps and flips, and tap-dancing, as well as some partnered dancing with June Haver. And of course, I think she keeps up with him pretty well, and has a few good moments of her own, besides playing Rosie O’Grady herself in flashback.
Of course, I have to drag in why this is a Christmas movie! The last twenty minutes of the movie take place around Christmastime. We get some reconciliation for the various characters within that time, and see some decorated Christmas trees. Admittedly, outside of some background music, there is no Christmas music, although “Winter Serenade” at least fits the time of year, as well as actor James Barton (a former vaudevillian himself) doing some “skating” onstage as he performs when asked to do so at the end.
If you can’t tell, this is a movie I enjoy. Maybe not the absolute best movie ever made, but it is good fun, and one I enjoy revisiting, particularly around Christmastime, so I would recommend it if you get the chance! The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection, and is one hour, forty-five minutes in length.
My Rating: 9/10